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Demolition of Parkland high school massacre site scheduled to begin Friday

Demolition begins at Florida school shooting site

(CNN) — For six years, a building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 people, was a nightmare frozen in time. But now, the 1200 building, which contained the bloody and heartbreaking remnants of the massacre, will soon be demolished.

The demolition of the building is scheduled to begin Friday, according to the Broward County Public Schools district, and it is expected to take several weeks to complete. The district said in May the demolition would take place in summer 2024 following the end of the school year, which was Monday.

The demolition was initially set to begin Thursday, but was delayed due to days of torrential flooding rain in South Florida. The process will now begin Friday morning, rain or shine, the school district said Thursday afternoon.

The shooting ripped apart 17 families, including 14 students and three faculty members, on Valentine’s Day in 2018. The gunman was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The building was preserved pending the trials of both the shooter and Parkland school resource officer Scot Peterson, who stayed outside during the massacre. A judge acquitted Peterson on all counts, absolving him of wrongdoing in the rare trial of a law enforcement officer.

In a statement, Broward County Public Schools said the district reached the demolition decision “in consultation with health and safety experts, and out of concern for the well-being of students and staff on campus.”

“We understand the urgency of this matter, but it is essential to prioritize safety above all else. In preparation for the demolition, crews will clean and clear the building, adhering to state and the Environmental Protection Agency’s landfill disposal regulations. As we continue to heal, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community and will provide updates as information becomes available,” it continued.

Students initially returned to the campus two weeks after the shooting. But building 1200, where most of the victims were killed, was closed off behind emergency tape with its windows covered. A new building later replaced the temporary classrooms students had been using in the wake of the slaughter.

Survivors and family members of those killed in the shooting were given — at their request — private, individual tours in 2023 inside the 1200 building and described a tragic and grotesque scene, with blood stains in the areas where the victims had been killed, bullet holes puncturing the classrooms, and Valentine’s Day candy still on students’ desks.

Other school shooting sites destroyed

Many schools where mass shootings occur choose to demolish the sites of the massacres to ease the extraordinary trauma experienced by survivors, victims’ families and the rest of the community. Four years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 26, a newly rebuilt school opened to students — including fourth-graders who were kindergarteners during the bloodbath.

Columbine High School also demolished its school library, where most of the carnage ensued during the 1999 shooting that killed 13, and replaced it with a newly built school library named the Hope Library.

In Uvalde, Texas, where students at Robb Elementary School were marred by the slaughter of 19 children and two teachers in 2022, city officials have said they also plan to destroy the building.

“In many cases, these schools are closed or entirely renovated in an attempt to decrease the traumatic reminders that they have become for community members,” according to the Center for Violence Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.